The Ecologist

 

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Contaminated land in West Yorkshire, England - the site of a former chemicals factory. Photo: Engineering at Cambridge via Flickr.

Death by landfill - cutting 'green tape' costs lives

Paul Mobbs

22nd December 2014

As Cameron 'cuts the green crap' Paul Mobbs remembers how the decisions of a Conservative government 20 years ago to go easy on the owners of contaminated land and old waste dumps have led to present day blight, ill-health and death. Now brow-beaten regulators and politicians in hock to party funders are doing it all over again. more...
This roman aqueduct near Haifa in modern-day Israel took water to Caesaria, the civilian and military capital of Judaea. But ultimately, most of the water flowed to Rome itself - if in virtual form. Photo: C. J.™ via Flickr.

The food-water-energy nexus defeated the Romans. It could defeat us too

Jonathan Bridge

13th December 2014

As well as being masters of water engineering, the Romans also engaged in a long distance trade in water across the Mediterranean - embodied in grain, oil, wine, cloth, metals and other goods. They also discovered the food-water-energy nexus - and not in a good way. We need to heed the warnings from Roman history. more...
The garbage that builds up incessantly on the Praia de Achados beach presents formidable obstacle to loggerhead turtles seeking nesting sites. Photo: Simon Ager / Sea Shepherd.

Over 268,000 tonnes of ocean plastic - neglect it at our peril

Magnus Johnson & Melanie Coull

11th December 2014

The oceans are awash with plastic, write Magnus Johnson & Melanie Coull, with dire effects on marine wildlife mistaking it for food. But it's not just big animals like basking sharks, turtles and albatrosses that suffer. The very worst damage may be caused by particles too small for the eye to see, and the toxic chemicals that cling to them. more...
Stonehenge itself may benefit from the tunneling - but at the expense of the its wider landscape in the 27 sq.km World Heritage Site. Photo: Todd via Flickr.

Stonehenge World Heritage Site at risk from A303 tunnel plans

Kate Fielden

13th December 2014

The government's plans to tunnel the A303 under the Stonehenge World Heritage Site has one grievous flaw, writes Kate Fielden. The tunnel is too short, so huge portals and graded junctions at both ends would lie entirely within the WHS causing huge damage to landscape and wipe out archaeological remains. more...
Downtown East Liverpool. Photo: Caitlin Johnson.

Appalachia: a small city's fight against toxic waste incineration

Caitlin Johnson

5th December 2014

East Liverpool, a small city by the Ohio river, is a cancer-ridden dumping ground for the detritus of the global economy, writes Caitlin Johnson. With its filthy power station, coal ash lake, 1,300 fracking wells, silica sand mountains and a huge toxic waste incinerator, the city's people need your help in their fight for environmental justice. more...
Wolves - to reduce farm animal predation, don't shoot them! Photo: USFWS Midwest, CC BY.

Shot in the foot? Killing wolves, lynx, cougar increases farm predation

Niki Rust

4th December 2014

Farmers who shoot wolves and other predators to save their animals from predation are actually having the opposite effect, writes Niki Rust. The disruption that killing predators has on the stability of their families and packs actually causes more, not less predation. Ultimately, we're better off learning to live with predators. more...
Spaying agro-chemicals on a windy day. Photo: Graham Rawlings via Flickr.

Negligent and unlawful: EFSA's latest guidance on pesticide use and exposure

Georgina Downs

4th December 2014

After an apparent cave-in to Europe's pesticide industry, the European Food Safety Authority's latest guidance on pesticides conflicts with European law, writes Georgina Downs - by ignoring the real-life agrochemical exposure of rural residents. Commission President Juncker must step in and demand the withdrawal of this disgraceful document. more...
The possible lengthening of ice-free periods may affect polar bears before the end of the century. Photo: Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons.

With melting Arctic ice, Canada's polar bears face wipe-out by 2100

Tim Radford

6th December 2014

The expected melting of sea ice in Canada's Arctic Archipelago will progressively render huge areas unable to support viable polar bears populations, writes Tim Radford. By 2100 the polar bears could be pushed out altogether. more...
No neonics here: organic Brussels sprouts from Home Farm, Nacton. Photo: Nick Saltmarsh via Flickr.

Farming for profit? Or for people, nature, health, wellbeing and human survival?

Colin Tudge

19th November 2014

Farming today is well on the way to becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of the agro-chemical-biotech industry, writes Colin Tudge. Defra and the European Commission are all too keen to make it so, reflecting the interests of an agro-oligarchy obsessed with profits and growth at all costs. But there is an alternative. Join the 'real farming' agrarian renaissance ... more...
Is this the kind of Arctic you want, cross-crossed by shipping, complete with oil rigs, mining, industrial fishing and pollution? If not, get behind the Arctic Declaration! Photo: epsdave via Pixabay.

We must keep the Arctic clean, wild and free!

Professor Robert Spicer

17th November 2014

The Arctic is a special place, teeming with life, but it is under threat like never before, writes Robert Spicer - not just from climate change, but from oil drilling, industrial fishing and shipping, as receding ice creates now commercial opportunities. We must designate an Arctic Sanctuary where nature can reign undisturbed. more...
The Golden Oriole is one of the birds set to benefit from the protection of the Aftrica-Eurasia Flyway. Photo: m-idre31 via Flickr.

New protection for migratory birds and their 'flyways'

The Ecologist

14th November 2014

Two new international agreements will help to save migratory birds from hunting, trapping and poisoning, and to protect their long-distance flyways. A key objective is to phase out lead shot within three years, and eliminate the toxic drug diclofenac. more...
Lorsban is sprayed on a soccer pitch to control grubs, 1987. Photo: srv007 via Flickr.

Chlorpyrifos - cause of birth defects, mental impairment - sprayed on farms across the US

Janette D. Sherman

15th November 2014

Dow's teratogenic pesticide chlorpyrifos is a human and environmental disaster, writes Janette D. Sherman. It causes serious, irreversible damage to the human foetus even at low concentrations that may be harmless to the mother, resulting in severely and permanently disabled and mentally damaged children. But it's still sprayed in vast quantities on America's farms. more...

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Sole of shoe at 'Highway of Death' in Iraq, where DU munitions were used to destroy tanks and other vehicles of Saddam Hussein's retreating army in Gulf War I. Photo: Christiaan Briggs via Flickr.

UN Resolution warns nuclear WMD states: end is nigh for DU munitions

John LaForge

10th November 2014

Only four countries opposed a UN Resolution on 'depleted uranium' munitions: the USA, UK, France and Israel, all nuclear WMD states whose use of DU leaves battle fields contaminated with toxic, radioactive residues for millennia into the future. The overwhelming support for the Resolution puts the WMD states on notice - DU munitions are no longer acceptable. more...
Spaying agro-chemicals on a windy day. Photo: Graham Rawlings via Flickr.

Agricultural pesticides - the gaping hole in the UK's 'Pollinator Strategy'

Georgina Downs

6th November 2014

The Government's 'National Pollinator Strategy' has a fatal flaw, writes Georgina Downs - it contains no meaningful measures to address farmers' spraying of highly toxic pesticides, often in mixtures that can further increase the harm they cause. And with 80% of the UK's pesticides used in agriculture, that's setting the 'strategy' up to fail. more...
Monument to the 1984 Bhopal disaster. Photo: Luca Frediani via Wikimedia Commons.

Bhopal 30 years on - justice evaded, but the fight goes on

Vijay Prashad

3rd December 2014

Thirty years ago today, Union Carbide's pesticide factory in Bhopal, India, released toxic gases that killed 3,787 people and injured over half a million, writes Vijay Prashad. The site is still contaminated, victims remain uncompensated, and the area suffers from a high rate of serious birth defects. Yet UC's CEO evaded justice, to die in a Florida nursing home this year at the age of 92. more...
Rice porage is the perfect food for weaning babies - apart from the sometimes high levels of arsenic. Photo: Arun Joseph via Flickr.

Rice can have high levels of arsenic - so why isn't it regulated in our food?

Andy Meharg

8th November 2014

Rice can often contain high levels of arsenic, writes Andy Meharg. But while levels of this highly toxic element are tightly regulated in water, the EU has set no limits for arsenic in food. This needs to change, fast - and until it does, be careful not to feed too much rice to babies and small children ... more...
Hunting for lugworms for fishing bait at Brighton beach. Photo: Martin Thomas via Flickr.

Lugworms suffer toxic impact of acidifying oceans

Alex Kirby

30th October 2014

A common marine worm key to the richness of many coastal ecosystems is being damaged by the increasing ocean acidification that was thought to imperil mainly shellfish and coral, writes Alex Kirby. It's an unwelcome sign of more unexpected ecological changes to come. more...
With milkweed and other 'weeds' now facing the dual chemical assault of glyphosate and 2,4-D, what hope for the Monarch butterfly?

New seeds, old pesticides - 2,4-D and 'next generation' GMOs

Jim Goodman

27th October 2014

The US EPA has approved new GMO corn and soybean varieties resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D, writes Jim Goodman - and the highly toxic herbicide mix itself. In this latest escalation of the chemical war against nature there is one clear winner - Dow AgroSciences. But everyone else loses - farmers, consumers and our increasingly endangered wildlife. more...
Krak des Chevaliers, the greatest of all the crusader castles, located in modern day Syria. Gavin Bannerman via Flickr.

Crusaders and Zionists

Uri Avnery

12th October 2014

The words 'Crusaders' and 'Zionists' are appearing ever more often as twins, writes Uri Avnery - and there are astonishing historical resonances between the two. If Israel wants to avoid the fate of the medieval Crusaders, it had better start accentuating the differences, and become a true Middle Eastern state, rooted in the region's native soil and culture. more...
Sweden's Greens celebrate six ministerial positions in the new Social Democrat-led government. Photo: Miljöpartiet de gröna via Flickr.

Greens join Swedish government with radical environmental agenda

Dominic Hinde

8th October 2014

Sweden's Greens are in government for the first time, wriites Dominic Hinde, with six ministerial posts in the new Social Democrat / Green coalition. After eight years of Conservative-led government, the country is determined to resume its former role as a green pioneer, but many challenges lie ahead. more...
What was once the Aral Sea at Muinak, Qoraqalpoghiston, Uzbekistan. Photo: so11e via Flickr.

Once a Sea - now it's the Aral Desert

Anson Mackay

16th October 2014

The Aral Sea is a well known environmental disaster zone. But this year, it got a whole worse, writes Anson Mackay, as its biggest basin dried up completely to expose a toxic, salty wasteland. With continuing irrigation and declining river flows due to climate change, the desert is only set to expand. more...
YPG and YPJ fighters in Kobane. Photo: via Derek Wall / Open Democracy.

Western blind spot: the Kurds' war against Islamic State in Syria

Derek Wall

6th October 2014

A victory for the Kurds and their allies in Syria would be a victory for all who seek a future dictated by neither fundamentalists nor imperialists, writes Derek Wall. Is that why NATO members' have taken no effective action to help Syria's Kurds resist Islamic State - even as Kobane is set to fall, and with 160,000 Kurdish refugees trapped at the Turkish border? more...
Greenpeace action at Shell's petrol station in Davos, January 2013. Photo: Greenpeace Switzerland via Flickr.

Arctic madness: oil majors plead for lower safety standards

Mike G / DeSmogBlog

6th October 2014

Oil majors are gearing up to exploit Arctic oil, writes Mike G. But they don't want to carry the costs of all the safety equipment the US Government is demanding to protect the fragile Arctic environment from spills. And they're reluctant to give up the use of toxic chemical dispersants. more...
A deformed pig suffering, Ib Borup Pedersen believes, from the ill effects of glyphosate. Photo: Ib Borup Pedersen.

Changing to non-GMO soy transformed the health of my pigs

Ib Borup Pederson

18th September 2014

From the day that Danish pig farmer Ib Borup Pederson switched away from GM soy, his animals became healthier and more productive. Birth deformities reduced, sows became more fertile, medicine costs fell, and profits went up. The changes were linked to the reduction in the levels of the herbicide glyphosate in their feed. more...
Glyphosate herbicides are often sprayed on potato crops prior to harvest to 'dessicate' the plants' green leaves. Photo: David Wright via Flickr.

Toxic glyphosate herbicides fly under the EU's regulatory radar

Pete Farrer & Marianne Falck

12th September 2014

The widely used herbicide glyphosate has been judged 'safe', write Pete Farrer & Marianne Falck. But by the time it's used, it's in a 'formulation' with toxic surfactants, which escape EU regulation despite their known dangers. Germany alone has forbidden the use of the most dangerous surfactant - but is keeping its evidence secret. more...

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